need help with electrical gremlins

pastvast

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2005
Location
Toledo area, Ohio
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
Sorry for the cross-post... but I need answers!!

My '03 Jetta currently has a bad infestation of electrical gremlins that showed up last night. Here's what it has been doing (in chronological order):

Last night-
Battery light goes on
Lose all dashboard instruments (spedometer, tachometer, odometer, fuel gauge)
Regain all instrument gauges
battery light no longer on, but airbag error light goes on

This morning (it's dark so my lights are on)-
airbag error light still on
lose instrument panel backlighting (but backlighting on doors, heat/AC, seat heating stay on)
lose radio
ABS error light goes on
headlights dim (but still on)
cruise control erratic
instrument panel stuck (and doesn't change when key removed from ignition)- no change in odometer as I'm moving, spedometer stuck at 70, tachometer stuck (oddly enough... the clock works)
lose turn signals (both the indicator inside and the actual lights)

Any ideas on what has caused this gremlin infestation and how to exterminate them???

Here is work that's been done last week by our very own Jetaah:
brake fluid change
replace cruddy turbo actuator
install Panzer plate
general looksie with vag-com to see what else the car has to say for itself

Other work performed this fall/winter includes:
replace alternator
replace fuel filter
normal oil changes

Thanks for your help with this!
-Stephanie
 

timmyd

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2006
Location
Guelph, Ontario
TDI
2000 Jetta GLS
pastvast said:
Sorry for the cross-post... but I need answers!!

My '03 Jetta currently has a bad infestation of electrical gremlins that showed up last night. Here's what it has been doing (in chronological order):

Last night-
Battery light goes on
Lose all dashboard instruments (spedometer, tachometer, odometer, fuel gauge)
Regain all instrument gauges
battery light no longer on, but airbag error light goes on

This morning (it's dark so my lights are on)-
airbag error light still on
lose instrument panel backlighting (but backlighting on doors, heat/AC, seat heating stay on)
lose radio
ABS error light goes on
headlights dim (but still on)
cruise control erratic
instrument panel stuck (and doesn't change when key removed from ignition)- no change in odometer as I'm moving, spedometer stuck at 70, tachometer stuck (oddly enough... the clock works)
lose turn signals (both the indicator inside and the actual lights)

Any ideas on what has caused this gremlin infestation and how to exterminate them???

Here is work that's been done last week by our very own Jetaah:
brake fluid change
replace cruddy turbo actuator
install Panzer plate
general looksie with vag-com to see what else the car has to say for itself

Other work performed this fall/winter includes:
replace alternator
replace fuel filter
normal oil changes

Thanks for your help with this!
-Stephanie
Coolant migration??
 

TDIRyan

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2005
Location
Memphis, TN
TDI
02 Jetta TDI Black
Stephanie, before doing anything else, check the ground wires. There's the one at the battery, the one just above the battery, and one under the battery tray (take off the battery and there's 4 bolts holding the tray down - not hard). Take off all the leads and clean them with a wire brush or just use some sand paper on them.

The problems you're having I've seen about 1/2 of those when my ground connection was loose. It didn't look bad or anything, but I cleaned them and haven't had a problem since.
 

alphaseinor

TDI Innovator Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Location
Denton, TX
TDI
'03 Jetta TDI 780,000 miles (totaled out), 01 Audi TT 225 Quattro 230,000 Miles (runs great!), 00 Cabreetle Beetle dash, ALH & MK4 harness Swap
When troubleshooting electrical problems that are intermittant and widespread, always start with every ground in the car... get a bentley and look up all ground points for the interior, and do as TDIRyan says... clean the ones under the battery tray
 

pastvast

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2005
Location
Toledo area, Ohio
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
After looking up coolant migration, I was thinking "I'm sooo screwed". But, I looked in the connector and it was quite dry. So... thankfully, I get to focus on the more mundane aspects of finding loose ground connections. I'll see if anyone around here has some tools and a wire brush/sandpaper for some lunchtime fun.

-Stephanie
 

bam_bam_dip

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2004
Location
Belton, TX
TDI
99.5 Jetta TDI GL
I think all of us have been there, done that. With the "HOLY CRAP" :eek::eek: do you think I might have coolant migration???!!!

Only a few have actually had it. And its a real bear to fix.
 

pastvast

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2005
Location
Toledo area, Ohio
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
I couldn't round up any of the necessary tools at the office and had hoped to start checking and cleaning grounds when I got home. But, my Jetta died within a mile of leaving work this evening. puffs of smoke... then dead. Thankfully someone helped me push it out of the intersection. Then got towed the 50 miles back to a nearby shop. I hope they'll be able to figure out and fix the problem.

-Stephanie
 

alphaseinor

TDI Innovator Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Location
Denton, TX
TDI
'03 Jetta TDI 780,000 miles (totaled out), 01 Audi TT 225 Quattro 230,000 Miles (runs great!), 00 Cabreetle Beetle dash, ALH & MK4 harness Swap
pastvast said:
But, my Jetta died within a mile of leaving work this evening. puffs of smoke... then dead.
Definately electrical... you need to find someone with a VAG-COM to start scanning...

pastvast said:
Then got towed the 50 miles back to a nearby shop.
Honestly, that's the scariest thing I have heard all day...
 
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